One Punk Under God, Episode 4: “Fight, Flee or Forgive”

For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money,
   and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it. 
                        Ecclesiastes 7:12

Forgive me.  No sooner does iTunes cough up Episode 4 after a long pause from Episode 3, then this morning they cough up Episode 5!  That’s a lot of coughing, so please be patient and I’ll get all this thought through and written up as soon as I can. 

The episode starts with shots from the New Jim Bakker Show.  Jim carries on about the biblical admonition JUDGE NOT! and spends so much time doing so that Jay can’t get in a word edgewise.  (Or at least this is how it appears from the editing.)  As it turns out, I don’t think he lets Jay have a word in the conversation as he’s probably more afraid of not saying the things that he needs to say to Jay than he is being afraid Jay’s going to say things to alienate his audience.

JIM: “They ask me ‘Jim, why do you forgive everybody’?  I tell them, ‘Because I NEED FORGIVENESS.'”

Jim then recalls that when they were taking him off to jail, he knew that would be the last time he’d see Jay for a very long time, and that his biggest regret was that he wasn’t allowed to raise Jim.  He recalls a time where Jay (then Jamie) told him ‘Dad, all I want is one day alone with you.  It’s even easier now to see why Jay desires his relationship with his father to be restored. 

The camera then adjusts to a few shots of Jim and his wife Lori on their own show and a painting of Jesus hangs on the wall.  I couldn’t place my finger on it right away, but in this episode it occurs to me that this artist has painted Jesus as a younger, long-haired Sean Connery.  I force myself not to make jokes about Jesus Bond turning the water into a shaken, not stirred, martini.  Onward.

Jay says that his dad is probably the most honest when he’s on television.

Jim says that his son is an awesome many of God, has an incredible ministry to those who most need to hear the word of God, and that Jay “is what I should be but cannot be.”  I nearly plotzed.  Whatever you may still think of the man, that’s an amazing bit of self-realization to come from a man who never seemed quite genuine.  On his way home, Jay believes that his father respects him.  I would believe that his father respects him even more if he’d let him talk on his show.  Jim also says that he sees that his son preaches ultimate grace, like he does, and that eventually Jay will pay a high price for this.

Back in Atlanta with Jay’s childhood friend Paulik, we find out that Jay went to Chapel Hill in Atlanta while his father was in prison.  Paulik says that he believes that as Preacher’s Kids, they have a deep thirst for what is real.  I kept thinking if Paulik’s got such a thirst for what is real, he might want to revisit that whole issue of sexual orientation and being fully that which God has created him.

A card is shown that indicates, much to the earlier threat, Revolution’s primary financial supporter has withdrawn their support.  $50,000 has been withdrawn, leaving one month worth of support.  (And I wondered, in a painfully cynical way, whether or not this mini-series was part of a funding effort for Revolution.)

Jay meets with Stu Damron at Stu’s house.  Stu says that he will go through it all with Jay and will support him no matter what, no matter what happens with the finances.  Up to this point, it’s been so easy to look at Stu a bit askance because he’s in this ministry with Jay, yet so unlike Jay in just about every way conceivable.  What is it between these guys that makes a relationship possible?  (“Name something that can keep a liberal preacher’s kid preacher and a conservative fundamentalist together towards one common goal.”  Ding! Ding!  “Jesus!”  “Good answer!  Good answer!”)  Stu teaches Jay to fly fish, showing his proper casting technique, and it’s heartbreaking in a way because here these two men are down by the river, smoking cigars and fishing, and it’s clear that this has been life for Jay.  Time spent alone with his father.

Later, the two discuss finances.  “What is your intent on teaching giving?” asks Stu.  “Well,” says Jay, “We’ve got a bunch of people who are probably broke and working two jobs.”  We don’t pass the plate at Revolution, and this must change.  “The New Testament says that we are to give everything” says Stu, and my sphincter clenches.  With such words Jim’s father was put into prison, wasn’t he?  “If I can’t give because I’m broke, that’s like saying I’ll quit my affair as soon as I get my marriage together.”  Never before has such a clear line been drawn between Stu and Jay.  But that’s not the clincher.

Jay freely admits that he’s never been comfortable asking for money.  Stu agrees, and wonders aloud if it isn’t because of his father’s reputation for constantly asking for money.

If the two are far apart in theology and world view, it was never more clear to me that God had a hand in this relationship between Stu and Jay, because Stu clearly has Jay’s number, 150%.

Later, back at Jay and Amanda’s apartment, Amanda goes to get her mail and the letter is here from NYU.  As was guessed in the last episode, Amanda’s been admitted to the post-Bac program at NYU.  Hugs all around, but it’s evident beginning here that Jay is wrestling hard with making decisions about what needs to happen next.

To that end, he makes another visit to see Tammy Faye who’s been so sick, she’s spent the last 3-4 weeks in bed.  She has lost considerable weight and looks like a balloon with the air leaked out.  Jay takes her out to a Wendy’s for lunch and she picks at a salad while wiping back the tears.  She’s afraid that with Jay and Amanda in NY, she’ll see a lot less of them.  It’s obvious that this weighs on Jay heavily.  What do you do with a mother who’s sick and getting sicker on this, her third bout with cancer?  Do you hand over your ministry to someone else and go follow your destiny?  Or do you stand and tend to things, hoping that God will provide?  Tammy Faye tells Jay that she thinks it’s great that he goes to the clubs and the bars to preach about Jesus.  When did the Bakker family get so freakin’ human?  She tells Jay that she got a realization of how the ministry affected the family when she’d go out clothes and she couldn’t remember what sizes he wore.  She just wants him to know how proud she is of him.

Stu and Jay are talking about the decision that Jay still has to make.  He says that when it comes to a decision like this, there are only three responses you can make: flee, fight, or forgive.  I have no idea what this means.  Jay is trying to figure out if he’s going to remain or if he’s going to abandon his dream and go with his wife to NYC.  Now of course at this point I am going insane and getting a headache because I’m shaking my head so much.  It seems as though Amanda has never been behind this ministry (although this idea changes somewhat in Episode 5) and she’d rather Jay leave the ministry and go back to school.  They decide that whomever takes over this ministry, it’s going to be very hard on them to take over.  Jay floats the idea that maybe Stu should take over the ministry.  Jay says this makes sense as does Stu.  It just seems like the next step in God’s plan.  Stu says that he felt God wanted him to start a church, he just hadn’t planned on this being the one.

Jay makes the announcement that night at the service at Masquerade.  I could have taken a baseball bat to the congregation there and it would have been kinder.  He announces that in August he’s going to Brooklyn and he’s going to give the pulpit over to Stu.  Jay and Stu’s biggest fear is that Jay will leave and no one will come to the church.

In previews for Episode 5, we see Amanda’s dream that Jay go to school, signs that Tammy Faye is getting even sicker, and that there is still a push/pull that weighs most heavily on Jay.  Do I stay or do I go?  How do I remain faithful when my obligations are at different parts of the country?

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~ by WriterRand on January 11, 2007.

3 Responses to “One Punk Under God, Episode 4: “Fight, Flee or Forgive””

  1. That conversation about Flee, Fight or Forgive was edited totally out of context. The conversation had nothing to do with Jay leaving for NY as the editing lead you to believe. It came from a totally different conversation where I was telling Jay that I was going to stick by him even though we disagreed. That all my life I had run, or gotten into a fight when I disagreed with someone on such a huge issue but that in this case I had chosen to forgive. I have no idea why that was presented as it was. I was as confused as you were.

    Thanks for watching and not looking at me “askance” (had to look that one up) and the Jesus thing… right on the money. Oh sorry I said… money LOL!!!

    Stu

  2. LOL! Welcome, Stu. This miniseries has been so good, it’s almost an insult to call it “reality television.”

    Any idea if there will be another miniseries with you and Jay?

  3. I’m know I’m really late commenting on this topic, but I just watched the first four episodes last night on iTunes.

    I didn’t like the way Jay announced his departure to his congregation either. Instead of simply explaining that he was supporting his wife’s education, he had to say God was leading them to New York. The clip made it sound like he wasn’t taking responsibility for his own decision (which I think was an appropriate decision for him to make).

    Thanks for clarifying the flee, fight, forgive conversation, Stu. The show portrayed you as a patron of Jay and Revolution who could possibly withdraw support over the gay issues. So, it was surprising that you decided to take over the church.

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